Early release from mission

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
catlady
Posts: 11
Joined: 10 Oct 2020, 19:33

Early release from mission

Post by catlady »

Two weeks ago on Monday our grandson who was serving a mission in Arkansas decided to take half a bottle of Tylenol and ended up in the hospital under suicide watch. His parents were notified and they flew out the next day. He had been out for about 7 months and this all came out of nowhere. Every email and weekly phone call was totally positive and he was always happy. He was very well prepared for his mission and it was completely his decision to go. But apparently he was stuffing emotionally and didn't know that it was o.k. to say something about it. Nobody saw this coming not even the mission president. We were all waiting for his email to come that day when my son in law got the phone call from the mission president. We were all in shock. Now, 12 days later my grandson is back home. He's been cleared medically and will continue therapy sessions. I really don't know where I'm going with this post..I just wanted to tell someone. Family members are very supportive and I hope friends and ward members will be also. Fortunately there is a lot less stigma attached to mental health issues than there used to be but it is still a hard thing to go through.
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DarkJedi
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Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Early release from mission

Post by DarkJedi »

I think this sort of silent suffering is far more common in our young people (it happens with older ones too) than we know. There is so much pressure to "do what we're supposed to do" that it's very difficult for people who are struggling to do those things to open up. Who do you talk to when everybody you know expects a mission, temple marriage, kids in 9 months, etc. (and some of those people are very openly judgmental about it).

It does sound like your grandson is in an OK place now and is getting support from his family. In my own experiences with my now young adult children and those I see in my ward and stake that family support is of the utmost importance. That doesn't mean things won't be tough going forward - however you look at this he is still in crisis and will be for some time to come (faith crisis is part of it).

As a side note, acetaminophen overdose is a terrible way to go - slow and painful and unrecoverable if enough was taken.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Arrakeen
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Joined: 25 Aug 2018, 18:49

Re: Early release from mission

Post by Arrakeen »

catlady wrote: 05 Nov 2022, 18:26 Every email and weekly phone call was totally positive and he was always happy. He was very well prepared for his mission and it was completely his decision to go. But apparently he was stuffing emotionally and didn't know that it was o.k. to say something about it.
This is a big takeaway from my own experience: It needs to be ok to say something about it.

I was severely depressed on my mission and though I never actually attempted suicide, I definitely had those thoughts.
Yet my family back home didn’t know much. In my mission we had specifically been told not to include anything negative in our emails home. My parents got a sense that something was wrong as my emails became extremely short, but they never knew just how bad it was.

After I got home, the most difficult thing to deal with was feeling like I was the only one who had a terrible experience. Though there has been some progress in this area, it is still rather taboo to speak negatively of one’s mission. And when everything you hear from others is positive, it’s easy to feel like there’s something wrong with you for having a hard time. But in reality there are many others out there who struggled but just don’t talk about it.

I guess what I’m saying is I think it is important that he knows he is not alone and has a safe place where he can share his feelings and emotions about it even if they are not uplifting or positive.
Old-Timer
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Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Early release from mission

Post by Old-Timer »

I am glad he has such strong support at home. I hope he can get good help, come to understand what is causing the issue, and learn how to cope in healthy ways. I also am glad the overall understanding and help for mental health issues is so much better now than it was in the past.

Missionaries now have mental health services available as a standard part of their missions, with Mission Presidents given basic training and guidance to use the services, but they are accessible only to the extent the missionaries are willing and able to ask or their symptoms are visible to others.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken
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DarkJedi
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Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Early release from mission

Post by DarkJedi »

Old-Timer wrote: 06 Nov 2022, 20:20 Missionaries now have mental health services available as a standard part of their missions, with MissionPresidents given basic training and guidance to use the services, but they are accessible only to the extent the missionaries are willing and able to ask or their symptoms are visible to others.
And not all mission presidents are created equal. I am aware of at least a couple instances where missionaries should have been referred to the church's mental health professionals (and the missionaries would have participated) but the MP failed to do. I can't say exactly what the motivation for the MPs not referring was, and it could be a variety of things which might include the MP's own biases. As Arrakeen postulates, it is entirely possible that in the situation described by Catlady the mission president (and perhaps district or zone leaders as well as companions) were aware but failed to act.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction
Old-Timer
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Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Early release from mission

Post by Old-Timer »

Absolutely. The approach from the top has changed dramatically, but the water hasn't gotten to the end of all the rows yet.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken
Arrakeen
Posts: 251
Joined: 25 Aug 2018, 18:49

Re: Early release from mission

Post by Arrakeen »

Old-Timer wrote: 06 Nov 2022, 20:20 Missionaries now have mental health services available as a standard part of their missions, with MissionPresidents given basic training and guidance to use the services, but they are accessible only to the extent the missionaries are willing and able to ask or their symptoms are visible to others.
This might depend on the mission, but the mental health services available on my mission consisted of one retired counselor for several hundred missionaries who could do a brief phone call once a week and a local member who was a doctor who wrote prescriptions for all the missionaries’ medical needs. I was mostly just handed medication with the expectation that it would fix everything, and the lack of privacy on a mission really made it hard for any sort of real therapy session to take place. Considering how many missionaries I served with also struggled with mental health, it was very inadequate. This was 2015-2017 so there may have been some changes since then, but I think it is safe to say there is a lot of room for improvement.
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SilentDawning
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Re: Early release from mission

Post by SilentDawning »

Missions are hard - particularly if you don't know what you are doing. The endless rejection can really take its toll. As a leader, if you've never been a leader, it can be really challenging too. I had to go into counseling on my mission for problems I faced with my self-esteem, and the sessions really helped me a lot. Although I think it prevented me from being Assistant to the President (I went into leadership really early).

I am glad the family is supportive. I am surprised that no one saw it coming, but that doesn't mean it's real. I can see why he's back home if the experience was so hard on him that he contemplated and acted on suicidal thoughts. I hope he recovers and gets the help he needs.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

"The wise man has the power" -- adapted from What A Fool Believes -- The Doobie Brothers
Old-Timer
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Re: Early release from mission

Post by Old-Timer »

When I served my mission, there was no option whatsoever for counseling.

Things are very different now, Arrakeen, but there aren't "full" services available everywhere yet. There has been a massive push recently to expand mental health services for missionaries, including pre-mission evaluations to make sure applicants are ready for traditional missions or if a service mission would be better (or even no mission at the time), but the practical application still varies by ward, stake, mission, etc.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken
Watcher
Posts: 107
Joined: 12 Jul 2022, 08:39

Re: Early release from mission

Post by Watcher »

I am likely one of those members that is not all that helpful for those in need as addressed in this thread. I spent two years in the military before serving a mission during the Vietnam era. For me serving as a missionary was one of the easiest (and certainly most peaceful) times of my life. Especially compared to being in the military during a time of a very unpopular conflict. That said, I could use some pointers (perhaps volumes of suggestions) as to how I could be more of a help and comfort to those in need of comfort.

For 40 years I was involved in white water rafting with my family and friends. I would take as many as 60 on a white-water expedition and I would tell those with me that there are a lot of life lesson that can be learned rafting. Like it really does not matter how bad, how hard or even easy it was getting through the last hydraulic – what everyone needs to do is put the past behind them and get ready for what is coming next. I have the impression that may not always be the best attitude or help for certain people with certain problems. What is help and support for those with mental difficulties? Should there be any expectations?
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